UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey pledged his support for offshore wind power at the first Global Offshore Wind conference in London yesterday.
He emphasized how the offshore wind industry has changed since 2002, growing from less than 3% of the UK’s electricity supply to around 10%.
“We have more installed offshore wind than the rest of the world put together,” he said. “We have more projects in the pipeline than anyone else. Five of the top ten biggest offshore windfarms are in British waters; by the end of the year, seven will be.”
Indeed, on the same day the world’s largest wind farm, Walney off the Cumbrian coast, was officially commissioned by development partners SSE and DONG Energy.
He pledged his – and his government’s support for wind power and renewables in general, saying:
“Our renewables target is not an optional extra. It is one of the foundations of our energy policy.”
But he admitted that much of the political debate surrounding renewables and wind in particular is out of step with public opinion.
“The truth is that most people support renewable energy, even if it’s large scale, even if it’s to be built near them,” he said. “Three out of four people are concerned we’re not investing fast enough in alternative sources of energy. It’s time to take the politics out of wind.”
That public support indicates a “clear mandate” for an expansion of wind power, both on- and off-shore.
Davey also reasserted the government’s commitment to its 2020 target to source 15% of the UK’s energy from renewables, which many believe may be a tall order.
“Our renewables target is not up for grabs. It is not a fair-weather promise; an airy ambition, to be discarded or downgraded when the going gets tough. It is immovable. And our commitment to it is unshakeable,” he said.
But once again he had to admit that the UK has a lot of ground to make up to reach the 15% target, which will mean boosting the renewable supply from the current level of around 10% of electricity supply to some 30%.
Nevertheless, Davey maintained that the right frameworks are in place to support development.
Looking forward to 2050, the Energy Secretary said that offshore wind, nuclear and carbon capture and storage are the only real options.
While he stated that the next decade will be about testing and demonstrating technologies for mass deployment, the future is “inconceivable” without wind.
For further information:
World’s largest wind farm opens for business (15-Jun)
Offshore wind costs to drop 30% by 2020, says UK task force (14-Jun)
UK economy will benefit from offshore wind, says report (13-Jun)
UK wind farms hit new high meeting over 12% of electricity demand (6-Jan)
15 June 2012